It can be good to be the king, but often CEOs suffer more than anyone in their company with too much noise. CEOs must think about everything from stock price to whether Tommy shows up for work today. Before you start campaigning for that CEO role, think about what being a CEO involves. Being in charge feels like a 24X7 balancing act between solving everyone’s immediate problems (why can’t they solve themselves?) and thinking three years down the road. CEOs focus on tactics and channeling their inner Nostradamus at the same time. Heavy is the crown.
Does your company claim internal politics don’t exist? Oh, that’s rich. Do they also paint unicorns and rainbows on the office walls? Can I work there? We’d all like a break from reality. If there are people working at your company, politics exist and that’s okay. We tend to get down on politics because we have such a sorry example of that word coming out of our nation’s capital. Good politics create collaboration, compromise, and removing friction. Losers complicate issues, winners clarify the complex. Noise and bad politics create complexities. Winners use the three Vs to communicate clarity for everyone and tear down barriers.
Growth Engine Management brings simplicity
In designing our GEM (Growth Engine Management) model, we set out to simplify a company’s growth. CEOs tell us that GEM is helping explain their company to any employee on a single sheet of paper. With the problems in internal communications, educating people about your company is a wondrous thing. The more stakeholders know what the company is doing, the more they think about how to improve. Be a hero and get the Growth Engine Management white paper. You can read it and pass it along to a CEO who wants to get everyone on the same page. It could change a company for the better.
Stop thinking you work in a building
You think you work in a building. We imagine a tall, static structure generating money flowing out of the windows because the building just can’t hold it all. We work all day to make our company so attractive that we cannot be ignored. The building mindset is a lie. Your company is living a lie. You are now living a lie. Geez, I’ve got to take it easy on the coffee! What I’m trying to say is that there’s a more accurate way to look at this. Your company is a boat.
You are in a vessel that is in constant motion on the high seas. The size of your boat is of secondary concern. The fact that your boat is always moving is the turning point of your thinking. You navigate with headwinds, crosswinds, and the wind at your back (rarely it seems!). Your engine room is a masterpiece one day and on the next day, it smells like dirty oil. Moving from port to port (opportunities), you try to put your best foot forward and hide the imperfections when you present your company. To navigate through risks and opportunities, your boat relies on clear direction, critical thinking, constant attention, and a steadfast crew.
With wind, fuel, rogue waves, international laws, competing boats, and weather affecting your results, you lead your crew to better outcomes. This can feel overwhelming. I’m sure even a damp Blackbeard looked out over the water on a stormy night and thought, “I should have been a blacksmith like me mum always wanted, Arr”.
The three Vs are the keys
We have spent enough time on the boat imagery. Now that we are in constant motion, let’s get your company anchored to a simpler approach. Your valuation and why customers ultimately choose your company is based on the combination of the three Vs; Values, Value Experience, and Value Captured. This is your true brand index. Think about how your company should be obsessed with these three areas. Noise gets filtered quickly and bad politics dissipate when guided by a shared purpose.
V #1: Values
Your fortunes depend on your team’s values. If the employees don’t have the right kind of values, people aren’t going to want to do business with you. Establish a Growth Culture. Refuse to hire anyone who doesn’t align to company values and don’t let anyone stay who doesn’t reflect your values. Some examples; Poor listener? You need to go. Subversive teammate? You need to go. Argumentative? You need to go. Self-aggrandizing? You need to go. Kind? You stay. Active listener? You stay. Self-aware? You stay. Idea machine? You stay. Good project manager? Please stay and sit next to me.
Help undesirable employees exit (usually, just a few) and profile candidates based on values. Your clients hire your values to help get them through the day. Match to their values and you get more business. Values start early and are hard to change. You didn’t expect this, but you’ve become a fan of great parenting in the business world. Look for people who know how to think at a high level (mastery) and think of others first (maturity). Do not waver on aligning to your values or striving for cognitive diversity. Ideas are the currency of our time.
It’s not easy to purge the few that are causing problems, but the alternative is costing you more. Remember, some people have already quit and they just didn’t tell anyone. Addition through subtraction is a real thing. Honoring your company values is the foundation of the value experience you deliver.
V #2: Value Experience
There are four parts of the Value Experience. They are market understanding, customer experience, value proposition, and the value portfolio.
Begin by understanding the business challenges of the market. This insight informs our products and services. Invert execution from having markets and client knowledge. You need more than TAM (total available market) discussions, you need to be human. The degree of empathy your company has for decision makers is apparent to your markets. Lose the customer insight battle and you will predictably lose share of the markets you target. Gain clarity on customer aspirations, obstacles, and their customers. Market and client understanding is the first part of defining the Value Experience.
The customer experience determines how customers talk about the value you bring. We can all share brand opinions in a heartbeat with the entire planet. Customer experience transparency feels cleaner than the obscure marketing environment of the past. From content to the first sales call to customer service, customer experience is the second part of defining the Value Experience.
Stay loyal to your value positioning. The same messages should be repeated into the markets and clients you target. It’s not because your prospects are daft (maybe a few), your markets and clients are distracted. When your company has mastered the market’s most pressing needs, you are helping prospects with clear and cadenced messaging. Your prospects will let you know if you need to back off in their noisy world. Break through with personalized messages that resonate and educate. Stand out with the value you bring in today’s noisy B2B world. Clear and consistent value positioning is the third part of your Value Experience.
Your value portfolio enables the business outcomes prospects want. The value portfolio includes core products and services, skills, resources, networks, and channels. Your value portfolio keeps the promise of the value proposition. This is where you perform important functions such as product management and development. Your value portfolio in the fourth part of the Value Experience.
V #3: Value Capture
Leaders are measured on KPIs (key performance indicators) and none is more important than capturing value. Your stockholders measure your company on an increasing (hopefully) valuation that is communicated in earnings per share and profit. Top line growth is great, but stewarding efficient profit boosts your overall valuation. On a quarterly basis, CFOs are a public face for their company and strive to communicate an unbiased look at their company’s performance. That performance report is helped with the first two V’s; Values and Value Experience. All that is missing is capturing the value created.
Value Capture includes risk management, compliance, infrastructure, financial management, and any strategic investment. We can do a great job with Values and Value Experience and still undermine our valuation if we play fast and loose with Value Capture. The bonus here is that new customers are attracted to financially secure partners. If you have a CFO who asks a lot of fact-based questions, count your blessings.
The Three Vs as a Ballast
Heavy items are often placed on a ship to give it ballast which is a fancy word for stability. If you are a CEO, emphasize the three Vs to deliver ballast to the company journey. At least once a quarter, discuss the three Vs with the entire company to cement the focus. The company now sees itself as unified on the execution needed to drive valuation. With so many changes outside of your control, a little stability combined with agility is a welcome sight to all stakeholders.
Remember, you can get the GEM whitepaper which offers more specifics on how to support and communicate on the three Vs. Thank you for reading.